Ringside Shadows #93: Starting Over: A Finals Length Tuesday Review
Hello, all. As can be judged from the title of this column, finals week has effortlessly snuck up behind me recently (as I'm told it often does), and there's a list of things I should be doing right now that's larger than Hogan's ego. Thus, I'm in hopes that a shorter Tuesday Review won't be met with too much adversity this week. Rest assured that next week, which reads 'finals' in my calendar, will allow for a much easier writing schedule. If it's a bit difficult to understand, here's the short version; the week before finals, I study. The week during.. I screw around and try to relieve stress. I should be back up to 2 columns a week, at the very least come December 26th. Plus, I'm a good ways into a history of the heel in our sport, to be posted at better newsboards everywhere within another week or two. That one will eventually see a follow-up examining the heel's role in wrestling today. But enough about me..
Again, we're met with a rut in the business we'd all like to call home. Both programs fulfilled our need for good matwork in certain segments, our weekly dose of 'blow' in larger quantities, and an hour's worth of mic time. That said, both programs had fresh men involved in huge storylines (Jericho and Snow in the main event, Benoit kicking the snot out of the Outsiders), some nice work in the midcard, a load of shit or two, and several spots that just demand a rolling of the eyes. But I'm getting ahead of myself
Though he's gone from beating women to beating announcers, I have to say I'm very pleased with the progress and elevation of Jeff Jarrett since his return to WCW. Sure, he hasn't won any of the high-profile matchups, but he's been there. He's feuding with Goldberg, Hart, Benoit, etc. Sooner or later, things can and will turn around for the pissed off country boy, and it's nice to see him in the role he's deserved for some time now. I suppose if he couldn't go over Austin, the next best thing would be Goldberg. Bravo.
Let's just get it out of the way... the following moments sucked ass, and deserve a spot in the books of anus; Curly Bill's new name (as if it wasn't obvious who they were imitating the first time). Brian Knobbs. The hardcore match (Smiley is a competant wrestler.. the screaming gimmick was great for a couple weeks but now borders on annoyance, and hardcore matches of this type are generally saved for sloppy technicians). Every predictable moment of the "Italian Boys" skits. A match that featured a musician, an over-the hill wrestler of old, an over-the-hill writer and a decent worker who should've jumped ship when he got the chance (Seriously, when the rumors were spiraling about Vampiro's jumping ship to ECW I stated that he was better suited in his current role with WCW. I've since changed my mind.) Jerry Flynn. ('The Block' continued to prove how invaluable Mick Foley was to hardcore.. without anyone near his level, you get.. this.)
Who would've thought the 'books of anus' would run through 2 paragraphs? Still, the horror continues; Ass-yuh vs. Midnight (if I had any interest in seeing these two, I'd be a much larger fan of women's bodybuilding right now). Roddy Piper's push (as the last old timer currently spitting on the upper midcard, Piper's artificial hip is older than half the roster. Send him out to pasture while I still have a memory worth keeping... please). Heenan's completely oblivious attitude towards wrestling history (claiming Hall had "never lost a ladder match".. forget what many consider to be the greatest match of all time much?). Mercifully putting these paragraphs to rest, finally stealing not one (JR), not two (Shane), not three (Jarrett/Big Shot), but four (The referee strike) of the WWF's past gimmicks/angles in one evening.
To counter that, David Flair has become interesting as hell of late. His 'psycho' gimmick is the stuff of genius, and he plays the role beyond perfectly. Suddenly the son of the true great one has discovered charisma, a nice gimmick, and crowd interest. Plus, his selling of DDP's diamond cutter last night was top-f'n-notch! Truly an outstanding job, even outdoing his father's sale of the same move several months ago. If he's been spending all this time in the power plant working on his game, we could be seeing the dawn of an eventual star.Then again, if he comes out with the same old 12-move arsenal, this whole angle could go down the tubes in a hurry.
Liz didn't want anything to do with Luger until the split second he mentioned the champagne in his hands. That bloody lush.. I don't blame her and neither does Spence..
For the second straight week, I was let down by both the booking and performance of the Jushin Lyger match. Mere minutes into the clash, Buzzkill made another unnecessarily long appearance, though it was kept to a one-shot. My nerves on edge from the possibility of more of his commentary, I was let down by the potential ***** match that transgressed into a few unenthusiastic spots and a pinfall from out of the blue. At the very least, the right man won.. but I find myself wondering; did these two hold themselves back from the classic at hand because they were worried that an American audience wouldn't respond well to their more familiar, foreign styles? Just a little food for thought.
The near-ECW style de-emphasis of the World Title slightly bothers me. I dare say if Goldberg carried the belt, it would be defended in the main event of the evening, rarely, and they'd make it to be a much larger deal than they do now. Don't get me wrong, I'm not lobbing any sour grapes (well.. a few), nor do I have anything against Goldberg himself. It pains me to see Bret Hart lowered a notch after finally reaching the level he's deserved for 2 years. It was nice seeing big, bad Luger struggle with those silly pull-apart pants though.
Hooty fuckin' hoo! La Parka has found a role!! Words cannot describe how pleased I was at that moment. It neared the levels that I found in the opposite direction earlier in the day, unhappily discovering the "La Parka strut" was left off the taunt list of WWF 2000.
It was a 'lesser of two evils' match, as Curt Hennig took on Larry Zbyszko. If lethal Larry took a win home, the powers that be would leave town for good (Sh'yea).. if not, we'd have to find a way to live without his atrocious announcing skills on Thunder. Here's hoping the role goes to Scott Hudson, Terry Taylor or Mark Madden. The funny thing is; Zbyszko and Hennig took to the ring like the world was on fire (26 days too early boys), putting on one hell of a display that pretty much blew everything else out of the water. Between Hennig's offensive mastery, Zbyszko's flawless selling, and both men's technical expertise, we had a diamond in the rough for a couple minutes. Then they both blew up and the overbooking commenced.
Chris Benoit went over clean on Kevin Nash. As the match ended, Nash tapped and the ref called for the bell before Hall interfered. Thoughts like that make me sleep much easier. Throughout the match, Benoit sold Nash's offense as though he were running repeatedly into a mountain, systematically broke down the big man's legs (that's called psychology, kids.) and effectively carried the former world champion to his best match since his clash with Hart back in the WWF. Later in the night, Nash mockingly limped out to the ring, but then began walking normally suddenly, a sneer on his face. That means he knows what the word 'selling' means, he just doesn't care to do it. Fine. He just shouldn't expect the Crippler to sell his piss-poor powerbomb either. If he tried it again, I'd expect Chris to stiff him so fierce he'd have no choice but to sell. And it's nice to see Sid has suddenly befriended the wolverine..
Overall Grade: C-
The bad slightly outweighed the good here, as the 2 paragraphs of explanations can safely say. Meanwhile, I ran long-winded yet again (surprise).. it's time for
We started things off with a match, meaning a long interview is a lock for segment number 2. The New Age Outlaws (still faces in their minds and actions) met Too Cool, and for whatever reason, I sensed a title change in this. Sure enough, the two largest tools in the profession had the thing wrapped up before the Hollys screwed it all up. As of this moment, no decision was released as to the winners, since the Hollys' music played into the next segment. I love Too Cool.. between the names (grandmasta sexay??), the outfits (Christopher's goggles are hysterical), the ring garb, the talent and the charisma, what's not to love? Still, I was hoping to see the real tag division take off with a win here. All the stupendous talent in the tag team ranks right now, and the belts are around the waists of the Outlaws? And they're taking on Rock & Sock?!
The best feud in wrestling continued this week, further expanding and defining the tension between Al Snow, Mankind and The Rock. Snow still isn't playing a heel character, which just serves to get him further over as one. Turning on Mankind wasn't something I'd have done (they could have toyed with his affections a bit more before that.. maybe even forcing him to choose between the two in a 3-way and teasing another Rock&Sock breakup), but I didn't see it coming either. The introduction of Jericho is ideal and caught me completely on the blind side. When I saw Snow strike the Y2J pose moments before the countdown, a wry smile crept onto my face. Yes. This is how it should be done. As the master manipulator, Jericho can find a way to tie this all together seamlessly and then some. He can pick up the slack in the ring left by the Rock and an aging Mankind. I even dreamed up an angle that sees Snow and Y2J joining DX, with Jericho playing the role Rocky made famous in his stint with the NOD. No matter where this goes, it's gonna be good.
Val and D'Lo quietly put on a nice match, easily the best of the WWF's evening. It really is too bad they couldn't have ended this cleanly, though it should be a great one at Armageddon. D'Lo's explosive offense, Val's mixture of high flying and matwork, and Davey Boy's psychology and work tying things together should provide a sleeper for match of the evening there, as well. Of note; my roommate pronounces D'Lo with the emphasis on the "Lo". It makes him sound like a gimp.
After several weeks, the Mae Young telephone conversations came to an end last night... Big Cheez wasn't in, but his answering machine did yield an uttering of "I love Mae Young". Meanwhile, I was surprised by Prince Albert's work on Raw. He's far from a Mitsuharu Misawa, but he's no Bossman, either. Given another couple years in a wrestling promotion, he could be something.
I can reasonably understand giving HHH 5 minutes to convey his point last night. Even 10 minutes wouldn't have been completely unreasonable, as he did have a variety of topics to cover, but going nearly half an hour is just unacceptable. That's half of the all-important third hour gone to waste. I'm sure it'll draw huge numbers in the ratings, as it was only opposed by an f'n Chris Benoit match, but that's no excuse. I had a vague interest in the angle right up to this, and most of the heat I had for it has now frozen over, been baked, served and eaten. This was so weak, I could go on for half an hour myself listing reasons why it should've been cut down and shown in segments.. but I won't. I'd rather keep what readers remain. Of note was the censors' efforts to keep my roommate and I entertained during it though, with their multiple failed attempts at bleeping the word 'slut'. It was great, realizing how slow their reaction time had become.. I think they managed to hack out every word BUT the fateful 'slut'. Anyway..
The WWF's newest acquisition, Barbara Bush, was backstage.. using more makeup on her chest than most women use on their face in a month. I suppose I'm the only one that doesn't find much about her to be attractive, aren't I? I'll go for a real woman like Stephanie McMahon or my girlfriend long before I'll go for a plastic, fake piece of stank like that. As for Ms. Kitty, though.. holy goodness. She gives me a reaction usually saved for kegs.. I'd like to tap that..
Hey, remember the mid-90's? The WWF's worst financial years in... well, ever? Yeah, look who their legit challenger for Kevin Nash's World Title (cough) was.. A fella by the name of "King Mabel", who we know today as the lardball Viscera. Do they really want to walk that long, lonely road again? Plus, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't mention the Big Show's dropkick from the top rope. Or should I call it a... "jumping sit attack from up top"? Because that's what he did. Maybe I should just be honest and call it "ugly".
Overall Grade: C+
I commented on what became the main event further up in the review, explaining its absense here. The evening had some very nice developments, and focused on the best reason to get excited about North American wrestling today, Al Snow's current angle. However, it lost major points for letting the HHH ordeal go on so long, and for its weak list of challengers for the Big Show's world belt.
And as for me, it's back to the books with a little Wrestlemania 2000.. easily the most addictively original game ever put together. Everything I read about this couldn't do anything to prepare me for it.. the gameplay's just as good as Revenge, with a few bugs worked out, and the create function is simply unbelievable. You choose from nearly 150 in-ring moves! It took me almost 4 hours to finish my wrestler! Amazing! I've already taken part in a monumental occasion that saw me (going by the name 'chimpanzee') deliver a diving headbutt from the top to Paul Bearer's ass. And, through some freak act of nature, his forehead started bleeding. More on this later, and look for my aforementioned post regarding heels, it should be a good one.
until next time, i remain